By Bill Heaney
Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP has today warned that Police Scotland must be transformed into a 21st century police force after new figures revealed that recorded cyber-crime doubled in the past twelve months.
In 2020-21, an estimated 14,130 cyber-crimes were recorded by the police in Scotland. This has almost doubled (increasing by 95%) compared to the estimated 7,240 cyber-crimes recorded in 2019-20.
Mr McArthur said: “With more than 14,000 cyber-crimes recorded in Scotland, it’s clear that Scotland needs a 21st century police force to deal with 21st century challenges.
“So much of our lives now take place online and with that shift comes opportunities for unscrupulous individuals to exploit.
“In a society where a click of a button can move markets, seize control of personal computers or empty bank accounts, we must have a police force that is one step ahead of those who want to abuse our technologies.
“Senior police officers have warned in the past that the national force is struggling to get to grips with online offending.
“The Justice Secretary [Keith Brown SNP] needs to work with Police Scotland to understand the changing scale of the problem and assess what resources might be required to tackle it.”
On the proposals for a new Online Crime Office, he added: “While many types of crime have fallen during the pandemic, fraud and online crimes have skyrocketed. Vulnerable people are being cruelly targeted.
“But our laws and enforcement agencies are struggling to cope with the scale and nature of this.
“A new Online Crime Office would add expertise, listen to what victims need, tackle under-reporting and coordinate a clamp down.”